Riders, voyeurs take to the streets for 5th annual Philly Naked Bike Ride

     (Bas Slabbers/NewsWorks Photo, file)

    (Bas Slabbers/NewsWorks Photo, file)

    Later today, cyclists and advocates from all walks of life will hit the city’s streets in various stages of undress.

    Back for the fifth consecutive year, the Philly Naked Bike Ride, touted by organizers as the largest on the East Coast, will roll across the starting line at around 4 p.m.

    Throughout the afternoon, riders will begin to converge, rolling up to the starting point in twos and threes. There they will begin their transformation. That guy in the tube sock might be your cardiologist. And the lady with the baby and the flowers in her – eh, hair – she could be your crossing guard. By early evening, hundreds of minimally clad, brightly painted cyclists will take the city streets by storm.

    The 10-mile run, which weaves its way around some of Philly’s most popular landmarks and most traveled thoroughfares, is expected to take about three hours. It’s a slow ride, offering even the most inexperienced cyclists the opportunity to keep pace – and face, while staying in line with the rest of the pack.

    It’s the riders that have all the guts. The glory is theirs as well, easily recognized as streaks of flesh smile boldly and wave to the masses of awestruck onlookers.

    Since its inception five years ago, PNBR has offered an open forum for messages, though officially it’s meant to promote fuel conscious consumption, positive body image, and cycling advocacy.

    It’s also created an online frenzy of post-ride clicks as photo galleries of past events are some of the most viewed on the city’s most frequented media sites.

    The interest is there. And it’s not just for those with the gumption to strip down and sail through the streets with the wind on their cheeks. The shock and awe of one’s first (or fifth) Naked Bike Ride will surely never wane. Standing on the sidelines, blushing voyeurs can’t seem to look away. And organizers are recognizing the trend.

    This year they’ve offered a list of locales from which to watch the ride.

    Don’t be bashful – pull up some curb and catch a glimpse from the Art Museum Steps, Rittenhouse Square, City Hall (at South Penn Square, near the Ritz apartments), Logan Circle, Love Park, Independence Mall (6th & 5th at Market), Liberty Lands Park, and Broad & Spring Garden.

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